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Avoiding bankruptcy proceedings the Boris Becker way

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Tennis legend Boris Becker, who won the first of 3 men’s singles at Wimbledon in 1985 at the tender age of 17 and who earned $25m in a successful 22 year playing career, is taking a somewhat unconventional approach in trying to avoid bankruptcy proceedings in the UK Courts. The popular ex-player turned TV pundit was declared bankrupt in June 2017, owing bankers Arbuthnot Latham & Co an undisclosed sum of money.

Becker, 50, is claiming that an ambassadorial role for the Central African Republic (CAR) provides him with diplomatic immunity from legal proceedings for bankruptcy. The German stars lawyers, including Ben Emmerson QC who hs previously represented Julian Assange, are citing the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, meaning that unless the UK’s foreign secretary Boris Johnson and the CAR give their consent, then he is immune from being subject to any legal process in the UK. Based on this assertion, Becker's legal team recently lodged a claim in the High Court in London stating that his role as EU attaché for the CAR on sporting , humanitarian and cultural affairs – including having an office in their Brussels embassy - gives him immunity.

Upon asserting his immunity from prosecution, Becker said:

The decision to commence bankruptcy proceedings against me was both unjustified and unjust. A bunch of anonymous and unaccountable bankers and bureaucrats pushed me into a completely unnecessary declaration of bankruptcy, which has inflicted a whole heap of damage on me, both commercially and professionally, and on those close to me… I have now asserted diplomatic immunity as I am in fact bound to do, in order to bring this farce to an end, so that I can start to rebuild my life. Once this gravy train for the suits has been stopped in its tracks, my lawyers will turn to the question of compensation. I will be coming after the people who forced this process through to hold them publicly accountable for their actions.”

He went on to add:

I should add that I am immensely proud of my appointment as the sports and culture attache for the Central African Republic. Sport is incredibly important in Africa and is fast becoming a universal language, a form of social diplomacy and a leveller between people from vastly different and unequal social backgrounds around the world…My diplomatic role in the Central African Republic allows me to give something meaningful back to sports supporters in one of the poorest parts of the world. There is no reason why a role of this kind should be treated any differently to an appointment as a military or a trade attache, which everyone recognises as attracting diplomatic immunity.”

Following the immunity claim, the CAR has stated that Becker has no formal relationship with them, that the role he refers to doesn’t exist and that the CAR passport he claims to have has been traced to a batch of passports stolen in 2014.

If you need advice on bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings including how to fund a claim against a debtor, contact Advantage for an initial discussion. Click here to contact us today or call 0800 160 1298 to see how we can help.

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